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Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #10

And here's today's second current Legion of Super-Heroes read. This time out, the lead-up to the storyline that will seemingly end this current run of the title. Enjoy! :)

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #10
December, 2020
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ryan Sook
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Ryan Sook
Variant Cover: Darko LaFuente (pencils) & German Garcia (inks)
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Mission Monitor Board:
Karate Kid, Saturn Girl, Superboy, Brainiac 5, Blok, Gold Lantern, Chameleon Boy, Shadow Lass, Phantom Girl, Wildfire, Colossal Boy, Ultra Boy, Lightning Lass, Doctor Fate, Timber Wolf, Lightning Lad, Dawnstar, Bouncing Boy, Monster Boy, Computo (cameo)

Guest Star:

Supporting Characters:
Dini City Commissioner December Sevenbergen; The Guardians of the Universe; General Crav Nah; General Zod and his New Krypton Welcoming Committee

The Parliament of Rimbor (elite guard); Mordru, Rogol Zaar (cameos)

The issue begins with a splash page close-up on The Karate Kid. He explains his name is Val Armorr, talks about the martial arts and how they are still one of the purest forms of galactic cultural connection, that he is a master of all the martial arts, and that the karate aspect seems to excite his teammates the most. he explains that after General Crav Nah's attack on Legion HQ he was so upset that he excused himself to go on a meditation retreat, and thus ended up missing most of the trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He then goes on to recap the events of the last little while, that the trial of the Legion is over, Crav Nah has been arrested for conspiring against the United Planets, and that the Legion have split up across the galaxy in order to clean up and restore any damage from the Aquaman Trident incident. Oh, and he mentions that Superboy and Saturn Girl are now "coupled."

On Planet Gotham, Saturn Girl and Superboy are on a date. She explains to him that she's happy, but that they don't do "this" on her planet. On Titan, physical intimacy like kissing doesn't happen. Instead, they commune telepathically. Imra takes Jon into her mind, and he comments that it's so "clean". She tells him that it's actually not, which is a point of contention with her parents. He asks her not to show him what inside his own head, and she says she won't...and that their food has arrived. Imra tells him that Gotham's cuisine is tourist trash, but that it's excellent. However, their date is interrupted by the arrival of Inspector Sevenbergen, who says that as a cultural ambassador Saturn Girl shouldn't be dissing their classic onion rings. Saturn Girl thanks her for the call about Mordru, saying the Legion wanted to follow up on Mordru the Mad's escape but caught up in the trial. Sevenbergen says they have a lead on Mordru's whereabouts, but thinks the Legion needs to know what they've found. Magic. Superboy comments on "the other Kryptonite."

On the planet Oa, Gold Lantern, along with Brainiac 5 and Blok, has brought General Crav Nah to the Guardians of the Universe to face justice in light of his actions. When the Guardians inquire as to whether the General has anything to say, Crav says nothing, but before the Guardians can bestow the light of eternal justice upon him, Crav breaks free of his bonds, vowing revenge on the Legion. He is silenced by a punch from Blok, and then re-imprisoned in a fresh containment cell and removed from the premises. Gold Lantern admits to the Guardians that he feels overwhelmed and wants reassurance that he is doing his job well. The Guardians aver their faith in him, using his proper name of Kala Lour. The Guardians then ask Gold Lantern what he knows of the Great Darkness. Gold Lantern tells them of what the Legion knows to this point, and when Brainiac 5 asks the Guardians what they know of the Great Darkness, they are evasive. Blok senses that the Guardians are holding back information about the Great Darkness; he says as a Dryad, he can tell. The Guardians admit that the Great Darkness has been foreseen. However, they tell Brainiac 5 that they have kept it from him and the Legionnaires as they aren't sure if the Legion saves everything from the Great Darkness or is the cause of it.

On New Krypton, Chameleon Boy, Shadow Lass, Karate Kid, Phantom Girl, Wildfire and Colossal Boy have arrived to track down Mon-El, who quit the team in a huff. Chameleon Boy asks Shadow Lass, who now appears to be coupling with Mon-El, why he's so emotional and Shadow Lass replies that he lacks confidence. Wildfire belittles Mon-El, saying that he might have the powers of Superman, but he isn't the hero that Superman was. Chameleon Boy says they should have brought Jon Kent with them, but Phantom Girl says they voted not to. Shadow Lass says that Jon Kent is just another reminder to Mon-El of how not a Superboy he is. The Legionnaires are then met by General Zod, Mon-El's great-grandfather, who has survived these 1,000 years, as well as other inhabitants of New Krypton. They tell Zod they did not bring Jon Kent with them, as they're on New Krypton to find Mon-El. Zod says that he and Mon-El's grandmother thought that joining the Leg‭ion would be good for him, but... He tells them to follow him.

On the planet Rimbor, Jo Nah, surrounded by the bodies of several who challenged him, delivers the new that his father is gone, and says he is there as leader of the Legion to determine how the Legion can help and to open a discussion about how Rimbor can move forward. He is attacked by one of the female Parliament of Rimbor (Crav's elite guard) members with a sword, but Jo quickly deals with her. He tries to continue to get a response from the Rimborians on how the Legion can help them achieve a better future.

Back on Earth, Ayla Ranzz seeks out Brainiac 5 in his laboratory. The Coluan is studying records from the Age of Heroes, specifically on the Green Lantern Corps. Ayla tells Brainiac 5 that she wonders if she should be in the Legion. It took all of her willpower not to lash out at President Brande during the trial. She tells him that she's a justice warrior, that perhaps she doesn't fit in with the systemically entrenched Legion. Brainiac 5 tells her that the fact that she didn't strike out at the President tells him that she does understand and can be diplomatic, but that she has passion. She may not need the Legion, but they need that her for the progressiveness and pro-active nature of hers, for the fire that she has. Computo chimes in with, "Diplomacy will break your heart, kid" - a line attributed to OMAC. She also tells him that she knows about the Age of Heroes and the Green Lantern Corps, having studied up on the Age of Heroes when she was invited with her brother to join the Legion.

On Planet Gotham, Inspector Sevenberger tells Saturn Girl and Superboy that Mordru the Terrible escaped their custody, that his physical body disappeared but left a faint energy signature. They were able to cross-reference the energy signature and it appeared two planets away then another two planets away. They can't seem to figure out anything about it or how to follow it. Saturn Girl realizes that Mordru is using magic, and summons Doctor Fate to aid them. Fate was meditating and seems put out by having to answer the call. When he learns that it is Mordru they are seeking, Doctor Fate says they should have called him sooner. Using spells, Doctor Fate tells them that Mordru is on Xanthu, and that they need to go there now.

On Rimbor, Ultra Boy is not overly talkative to his fellow Legionnaires, Timber Wolf, Bouncing Boy, Lightning Lad, Dawnstar and Monster Boy. To his chagrin, he has been named planetary leader. He tells the others that he's trying to escape the influence and the sphere of his father, not become his father. However, Lightning Lad sees a silver lining: Rimbor has always been a problem, but now that it's ruled and governed by a Legionnaire, there's no problem. However, Ultra Boy points out that he cannot be the leader of the Legion and the leader of Rimbor. Lightning Lad and Monster Boy wonder why he can't, but aren't sure if that's "written somewhere."

On New Krypton, Zod leads Chameleon Boy, Shadow Lass, Karate Kid, Phantom Girl, Wildfire and Colossal Boy to the home of Mon-El. There, they learn that Mon-El has three daughters, Laraz, Conner and Lane. He is insistent on quitting the Legion. They tell him the Legion was acquitted during the trial and Crav is in Oan custody. When he asks if Jon Kent is still a member of the Legion and in the 31st Century, and learns that he is, Mon-El immediately flies off, leaving the three children in Zod's care.

And finally, on Xanthu, Mordru enters a dark cave system, using magic to shed a bit of light. He finds the person he is looking for, and informs him that Jon Kent from the 21st Century is living here in the right now. The person he finds is Rogol Zaar, enemy of all Krypton.

This issue of the Legion of Super-Heroes is a pretty decent one for the most part, as it is a stand-alone issue almost. The business with Aquaman's Trident is done. The Legion trial is done. But the story does give us the Legion trying to deal with several plots that need to be wrapped up, and it starts a whole new major plot, one that I'm not all that happy about (more on that later). The Superboy/Saturn Girl romance that seems to have been percolating for a bit is explored some more here, but that's an aside as they search for the missing Mordru. The current state of Rimborian politics, left a shambles by the conviction and sentencing of General Crav Nah is dealt with here, and the reader also get to see what Oa is like during this time. More is revealed about the Great Darkness. And the reader finally gets to see a bit more about Mon-El's home life and the world of New Krypton. What makes the story fascinating is that each of the storylines presented this issue offers hints and clues as to the future.

When it comes to the sequence on Oa with Gold Lantern, I have to say that I enjoyed the scene itself, though it seemed to be more about the Great Darkness that is coming rather than the sentencing and imprisonment of Ultra Boy's father. It was interesting to find out that he is "the chosen Gold Lantern" of *this* (my emphasis) dimension, seeming to confirm that this was a position of appointment and there are other Gold Lanterns in the Multiverse. It was also quite interesting, and not coincidental I think, that Brainiac 5 was studying ancient Green Lantern history. This makes me think there will be more Lantern backstory revealed in the (near) future.

Insofar as the ongoing story of Mon-El is concerned, I was surprised to learn that Zod is still alive after 1,000 years, but perhaps I shouldn't be. From what I recall of the Zod family history, Zod had at least one child, Lor-Zod, who used to be Chris Kent (Clark and Lois's adopted son in the pre-Flashpoint universe). I got the impression that Zod here is meant to be the original Zod from Superman's time, but am not clear if this was meant to be Lor-Zod (which would make more sense). And if he is Mon-El's grandfather, does that mean Jon married or had sex with Lor's potential daughter? In which case, that would technically make her Jon's niece. But, here's the thing... I thought the Legionnaires were supposed to be teenagers (at least from the age references we've seen in the series so far), so does this mean that Mon-El was just a regular teenager living a life at home with three daughters that he had at the start of puberty, and then suddenly the Legion recruited him? I am just so seriously confused with the whole Mon-El story and his (current) origin to be honest, and really don't like this version of the character.

My favourite scene in the entire issue had to be the one with Lightning Lass, or rather Ayla Ranzz, and Brainiac 5 in his lab. Ayla has come across in the series as feisty, very action-oriented, quick to use her lightning powers when the need arises, but here the reader learns about how doubts about being a Legionnaire. It's a lovely scene, and offers us an interesting pespective and something of a good twist on the Ayla/Brainy relationship in this Legion.

Once more, continuity rears its ugly head, or at least lack of continuity. On page 9, there is a throwaway line where Chameleon Boy refers to Shadow Lass coupling with Mon-El, when he asks her why he's so emotional. Except, in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #9, the reader learned that it was Phantom Girl who was coupling with him; Shadow Lass has been involved with Cosmic Boy. Where is Brian Cunningham, and why isn't he doing his job as editor on the series? This is just...seriously annoying to me, and I'm sure it also bothers other readers.

My feelings insofar as the final page of the issue, revealing Rogol Zaar to still be alive in the 31st Century, are to be honest...not good. Brian Bendis is no Jim Shooter, Paul Levitz, Gerry Conway, Grant Morrison or Scott Snyder when it comes to writing with an internal consistency and bringing back his own villains to the story. The fact that Bendis felt that he needed to bring back his own villain for this, the Legion's second story arc, feels just like an egocentric move and one where the author is liking ideas for original villains and big baddies. And let's be honest, Mordru, a villain without equal who needs zero help or allies, certainly doesn't need Rogol Zaar at all.

Ryan Sook continues to provide the artwork on the comic, and his work is stellar. His artwork is, to be perfectly honest, the best part of the series all told. This issue is somewhat odd in that regard, however, as there are plenty of pages without any backgrounds and there are some questionable layout choices here. That said, I did enjoy the breathy, ethereal landscape of the mind's eye of Imra's telepathy on page 3. Monster Boy's minotaur on page 17 is also quite good. And Chameleon Boy's pretending to be Krypto and Streaky when on New Krypton on page 20 was delightful. That said, the sequence on Rimbor was somewhat annoying to be honest, as it's not clear several times what emotion Ultra Boy is supposed to be feeling. If the writer isn't going to have any thought balloons, then it behooves the art to be crystal clear on what message is being conveyed.

Final Notes:
This is the eighth issue out of ten so far that does not have a title for the story...

The Interlac at the bottom of the first page reads,
"Martial arts are a highly organized set of systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons. They were first developed in ancient times for self-defense and law enforcement and then later, competition. Most use them for physical, mental, and spiritual development. For many parts of the Galactic, it is a cornerstone of the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. They have become a large part of a variety of galactic cultures including New Krypton, parts of Planet Gotham, Winath, and, of course, the Japanese outpost on Jupiter which is about to start its millennium celebrations at the end of the year."...

Karate Kid's real name is Val Armorr. Based on the Interlac text (see above), it's possible that he comes from the Japanese outpost on Jupiter...

Inspector Sevenbergen on Planet Gotham is a homage to either Karen Berger or Kurt Schaffenberger, or perhaps both...

Gold Lantern's real name is Kala Lour, and he is a former teacher who was offered the power ring by the Guardians of Oa. The character's name seems to be a pun of sorts on the word "colour"...

General Zod is Mon-El's great-grandfather. It is unclear whether he is the original Zod or Lor-Zod, however...

Mon-El has three daughters. Their names are Laraz, Conner, and Lane. There's no indication in the series so far who their mother(s) is(are).

Next Issue: Action Comics Vol 1 #1027


John Kahane

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